Crime, statistics and justice

5th July 2013 at 01:00


Brought to justice

Most people have an innate sense of what is right and wrong. But when it comes to the law, this can be complicated by privacy and human rights issues.

Give students fictional case studies of crimes. Take Tatiana, for example, a member of extremist group Global Revolution, who has been apprehended along with other key players before they can carry out an attack on a British city centre.

Tatiana is 18. She has been held for 30 days without charge but has been subject to repeated interrogation. A sample of her DNA has been taken but she maintains that she was not a senior figure within the group. She is charged with a number of offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

Set up a role play of the court case: students must decide what sentence Tatiana should receive and why. Expand the lesson by asking students what they think about collecting fingerprints and DNA before a person has been charged with a crime.

For more case study ideas, see Adam Hall's sentencing resource on the TES Connect website. bit.lySentencing


- Turn your students into crime scene investigators with this resource pack from alexharrison101. bit.lyforensicsunit

- Who was Jack the Ripper? Find out in Miss R's introductory lesson. bit.lywhowasjack

- Delve into the world of forensic entomology and find out how to use insects to calculate time of death. bit.lyEntomology


- Recover evidence using physical, biological and chemical techniques in russellarnott's introduction to crime scene processing. bit.lycsprocessing

- What happens when you break the law? A PowerPoint shared by samtscotland gives an overview. bit.lycrimeand thelaw

- Introduce your class to the basics of news writing in TESEnglish's activity. bit.lyNews ReportWriting

- EmmyCD's lesson considers how news stories are reported. bit.lyNewsValues


Catch the serial killer

The 19th-century serial killer Jack the Ripper - infamous for murdering women and removing their vital organs - has entered the realm of British folklore, not least because he was never caught.

Butchers, surgeons and physicians were suspected of being the murderer because of his methods. More than 2,000 people were interviewed, more than 300 investigated and 80 detained, yet still the killer eluded capture. Could he have done so if the police had had access to modern-day forensics?

When Jack the Ripper was on the prowl in Whitechapel, East London, in 1888, forensic material was collected but police were limited to studying the killer's distinctive methods, the handwriting of various letters that were allegedly sent by him and witness accounts that were often contradictory.

Why not get your students to consider how modern forensics might have been used to catch Jack the Ripper? If these ghastly crimes took place today, what forensic evidence would police be able to gather in order to narrow down the search for the murderer?


Dissecting the data

Are your students interested in forensics or in looking at what science and statistics can tell us about the world?

The latest issue of Big Picture magazine is about "number crunching" - for example, different ways of presenting the results of experiments, and how statistics can be used to understand and interpret data.

The free magazine for post-16 teachers and students explores issues in biology and medicine and is published by UK health charity the Wellcome Trust. It is accompanied by online educational resources, including a presentation on how to draw a histogram and a short video that demonstrates how to use a chi-squared test to see if fingerprint type is related to gender.

The magazine explores how people relate to risk and probability, and debunks some statistical myths in a QA column. It also contains real examples of how statistics have been misused or misrepresented in the media, courts and advertising.

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